For more than three generations, the old scarecrow watched over the Fall Harvest Art Festival in the Little River City Park every second Saturday in October. Children gathered at small tables and played games or had their faces painted.
“Hi, scary face,” the children would holler as they ran past the old scarecrow.
The old scarecrow grew sadder each year as the children became crueler with their taunts. He wasn’t a bad guy. In fact, he used to be called a grand looking fellow. Those children grew up though and had children of their own. Now so few come with their grandchildren or great-grandchildren that the town has forgotten what the old scarecrow meant to the town.
You see, it all started in 1919. Farmers in Little River planted their crops and prayed for a bumper crop as they did every year, but Mother Nature had other plans. First early rain storms threatened the fragile seedlings, but the worst was yet to come. Late June weather gave birth to millions of locust. Hungry locust. Locust with only one mission in life.
Farmers all over Little River gave their wives and daughters every scrap of cloth and ripped clothing they could find. Mr. Olson, owner of the mercantile, donated gunny sacks to the school so that the school children could paint on faces for the scarecrows. Even Preacher Jacobs was involved in helping the farmers. He prayed and blessed each scarecrow as the farmer placed it in their fields.
No one really expected it to work, but it did. Hundreds of scarecrows in the fields saved the town. To celebrate all their hard work and community spirit, the farmers arranged a large picnic in the town square. Several farmers brought their scarecrow and the grand fellow was voted as the best the town had ever seen.
The grand fellow has watched over the town square ever since. Time passed and the picnic changed, but, until now, the people had not changed. His heart breaks every time a child calls him scary face, but that must be all he is. Something to ridicule.
“Thank you,” a little girl with ribbons in her hair said to the scarecrow.
“Why you telling scary face thanks,” asked her brother who had watermelon juice dripping off his scarecrow painted face.
“For saving the town.”
“Oh, your teacher told you the story huh?”
“Yeah, it was wonderful.”
He brother laughed. “Yeah, all of us hear it in kindergarten. Wait till third grade when you get to make the scarecrow for the school play.”
The scarecrow couldn’t believe what he was hearing.
“He’s not scary looking though,” the little girl said, looking at the old, worn gunny sack.
“Nah, we just say that ’cause he’s a scarecrow. He’s supposed to be scary.”
The little girl shrugged her shoulders. “I think he’s wonderful.”
As the children went on their way, the scarecrow seemed to put on a little weight as he puffed out his chest with pride. They did know who he was. They loved him. Everyone loved him. It was the grandest Fall Harvest Art Festival he could remember. He never wanted the day to end.